Schooling identities : an ethnography of the constitution of pupil identities
This thesis is concerned with the constitution of pupil identities within the school context. My central goal is to offer an enhanced understanding of the processes through which inequities within the context of secondary education come to pivot around biographical, cultural and learner identities. The thesis examines existing school ethnography concerned with pupil identities and maps key theoretical movements within the social sciences and humanities concerned with the subject and identity. I suggest that school ethnography has only recently begun to explore fully the interactions of multiple identity categories and the implications of these interactions. I also suggest that the utility of recent theorisations of power and the subject for understanding school-level practices remains under-developed. My analyses of empirical data generated through an ethnography in one London Secondary School offers a response to these limitations. Drawing on the theoretical contributions of Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida and Robert Connell, my analyses show how the citationallinguistic, bodily, and textual practices of pupils and teachers contribute to the performative constitution of intelligible selves and others. I suggest that while performatively constituted subjects have discursive agency, the intelligibility of performative constitutions is constrained by the historicity of discourse. I demonstrate the significance of the discursive intersections and interactions of identity categories and suggest that identities can best be understood as and in constellations. These constellations open up and close down the possibilities for identities to both become traps and be reinscribed again differently. These analyses add depth to existing understandings of the ways in which identities are constituted, the significance of constellations of identity categories, and the processes whereby educational inequities are sustained.